Posted by: Patricia Hysong | May 3, 2016

Laramie Stroke Support Group

This is a guest post by Mona Gupton. She has personal, firsthand experience dealing with the aftermath of stroke; caring for and being a supporter of a stroke survivor.

By Mona Gupton

Stroke can best be described as a brain attack. One of the myths about stroke is that it is an old person’s health issue. That could not be further from the truth. It can happen to anyone at any time. My daughter suffered a massive stroke at the age of 21! Stroke occurs every 40 seconds and impacts nearly 800,000 Americans each year. It is the leading cause of adult disability in our country. When a person suffers a stroke, their entire family can be affected. Recovery is a life-long process and can often isolate the survivor (as well as their caregiver) from previously enjoyed activities, friends, and employment. Emotional support for the survivor and their caregiver(s) is a critical part of recovery.

There are nearly 7 million stroke survivors in the United States. Laramie is fortunate to have a local support group for stroke survivors and caregivers. The group, led by Lynda Coyle, Speech Clinic Director of the University of Wyoming Speech and Hearing Clinic, meets once a month. Activities and informational/educational sessions, based on the needs of the group, are planned for each meeting. The group has picnics, goes bowling, watches videos/webinars, and sometimes schedules special activities. One such activity was a group painting project led by Stacy Gupton, local artist and stroke survivor. Each survivor and caregiver created a work of art focusing on their own personal experience with stroke. The result was a powerful visual demonstration of stroke’s devastating impact but also revealed the perseverance of the survivors. The individual pieces have been combined for permanent art display in the UW College of Health Sciences. An unveiling will take place Tuesday, May 10 at 6:00 p.m. on the second floor of the Health Sciences Building (near Pharmacy).

Educate yourself on the symptoms of stroke. Doing so could literally save a life – your own or the life of someone close to you. The symptoms/warning signs of stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

An easy reminder to apply is to act FAST and call 9-1-1 immediately.

F    Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A   Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S    Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred or strange?

T    Time: It is essential to seek immediate medical attention if you observe any of these symptoms. Call 9-1-1.

For more information about stroke, visit the National Stroke Association at

Thank you to our guest writer, Mona Gupton. Mona and Stacy wrote a book, A Piece of Her Mind: A Mother-Daughter Journey Through Stroke and Recovery, that was published in 2009.

Courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website.

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